Inner Demons

In the religious world, there is good and evil and both are always fighting against each other. The Christians are caught in the middle and we constantly struggle to do and focus on the things that are good. It is sometimes a daily struggle hence the reason the bible says pray without ceasing. If you have been in the religious world for a while, then you know there are some universally accepted rights and wrongs.

Christians always have a moralistic struggle at one or more times in their lives. It’s a fact and we run to comfort scriptures like Romans 12:12 “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulations, continuing instant in prayer.” I am usually deviant in my thoughts and behaviors so during my struggles, I run to scriptures like Romans 8:14-15 “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.  I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” For me, this is just a reminder of my human frailty.

This morning I scrolled through Facebook and someone liked a Christian inspiration testimony. Paraphrase: The lady noted her success in her life: married at a young age, kids and both her and spouse are completing higher ed degrees and she attributed it all to her faith, God’s timing and protection. Maybe it’s due to my line of work, but I read such inspirational posts with some cynicism and my thought is “good for them, you are the lucky ones.”

Lots of people do not have their blessings laid out so nicely and some have greater struggles than others (think Aleppo). While reading that post, I was thinking about two things: My current inner demons and that of a new behavioral health patient.  Patient X’s inner demons are a doozy which were created from childhood to experiencing a number of very traumatic events throughout X’s life. Patient X had held it together successfully for many years but the final trauma pushed X to the edge and X is starting to slowly fall apart at the seams. X engaged in self punishment of personal life and career. I do not compare my demons to X’s but if I did, then mine would pale significantly; actually most people’s worst would not measure up. The point is no matter the nature of the demons, each of us still have to face them and sometimes they seem greater than God’s promise of protection and strength “he will not give us more than we can manage.”

The mental battle is epic. I tell patients that doing the right thing always seem to be the hardest. “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Ahhh… yes.. that peace that passes all understanding can be darn near elusive. However, when you do find it, life is wonderful but it does not always seem to stay too long. Life or the mind gets into a fight to hold onto the peace that is suppose to be so good for you. The constant battle of the inner demons gets tiresome. People fall away from God and decency because we want the battle to be over and we surrender to whatever we were fighting. The loss of hope and not finding even a glimmer of light from anywhere can be psychologically, emotionally and physically devastating. The battle takes a toll. It leaves behind distrust, despair, feeling defeated, emotionally broken and worst case turning to things that are not the best for us such as people, food, alcohol, drugs, sex and suicide.

Patient X is at the beginning of the battle. I would love to tell X that Jesus can make it better but that’s equivalent to telling someone with a gaping wound ‘let me kiss it and it will all go away.’ Unless God plans to do a divine intervention, Patient X has a major fight on hand. God does not take away our struggles or banish our demons- that would be way too easy. We have to make choices about how we will handle our demons. We have to use all the spiritual, cognitive and earthly supports in which we can get. We will make shitty choices ‘do the thing you should not do’ and we will make good choices. We will exhibit our human frailty in all it’s glory, we will get tired of the fight and we will want to roll over and play dead. I have heard enough patients say that they wish they just did not wake up. It’s not about suicide; it’s about wanting a little bit of peace and calmness of the mind. (Matrix fan) It’s sort of like that scene in the last Matrix when Trinity and Neo were fighting the machines and their ship went up above the darkness and clouds and she saw and felt the radiance of the sun and exclaimed “beautiful.”

You know your inner demons and you know the path you have to take or will be in search of the path you need to take. We can’t ignore them. There is no rule that says you have to get it right the first or even third time. The challenge will be to keep fighting until those demons do not have any power anymore.


Struggling Christians: Admit To Your Dirty Laundry

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In the past few years, I have come to a conclusion that there is a certain facade to Christianity that will never go away because we are all fallible. By being fallible, we want to present to the world something less distasteful; so, we invent the appearance of perfection. Every church presents smoke and mirrors and so do the members; however, once you clear the air then the reality of just how corruptible we are is very clear and no one likes what s/he sees.  I guess this is one reason why we should be exceedingly thankful is that God forgives completely.

I give no illusions that I DO identify with the Christians who admit to making egregious mistakes. I am in no way politically or Christianly correct (a good number of my posts highlight that which is the point of my blog). The ability to admit to being corrupted has somehow made me crave for God more than ever. The moment I admitted to being a bad Christian was the moment I recognized how much Jesus’ perfection is very necessary. I started learning from my mistakes and I can admit that I had to repeat them a few times before I got it. However, here is the kicker-those past mistakes are still a present struggle. Struggles that I will never deny at least to myself and God.

Catholicism adopted the issue of the 7 deadly sins:  wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. I am sure there are more that do not fall into either of those categories and each person has been touched and struggles with at least 2 of those. A recent post from another blog condemned a mega church pastor who defended a fellow mega church pastor who committed sexual crimes against underaged young men in his church. The issue of forgiveness came up. The pastor made a point to say that the church members should support their pastor just as he supported his church members who had made mistakes in their lives. That view gave me something to think about. In reality, if that sexually deviant man was my pastor, I would condemn him and walk away from that church. I would immediately have said he should have known better. Something to think about is that those are the same words atheist and agnostics say when us professed Christians screw up royally.

My only comment on that issue is that forgiveness is an act that requires divine intervention in order to truly forgive someone of certain sins. ‘We should know better!’ Shouldn’t we? Afterall, we are the chosen with a close connection to God. We understand the whole issue of Christ dying etc etc. So why do we still struggle and pretend that we don’t? How is it more acceptable to condemn someone versus admitting that we have our own shit in a closet too? There is something about religion (and money) that breeds a holier-than-thou attitude.

As for me and my sinful nature, I like talking about mine and others’ struggles. I can assume that most Christians are hesitant to share, will publicly condemn, but they will certainly think about the things I blog about and so much more.  It gives a weird sense of reality and being grounded that Christ took a couple nails, thorns, and sword for my dirty laundry. It makes Christianity very real to me. It gives me a reason to read the Bible and seek God’s answers.